MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A giant sculpture planned for Muskegon will be a nod to the community’s history and future.
The Portal, created by artist Lee Brown, will be a 45-foot circle made out of Corten steel, located on Shoreline Drive near Shoreline Inn. It will be lighted from dusk to down and will invite people to walk through it.
The project is the eighth public art piece from the MuskegonCity Public Art Initiative, which in 2018 set out to install 10 large pieces of art throughout the area.
“Our goal has been to do monumentally scaled works of art, and there’s not a lot of artists that are prepared to do that,” Judith Hayner, the project director for the MuskegonCity Public Arts Initiative, told News 8.
But Brown, a local sculptor who also works as the preparator at the Muskegon Art Museum, was a good fit for the project. He graduated from Kendall College in 1974 and has worked on other public art pieces and sculptures in the area.
Hayner said she approached him about the project and asked for three concept ideas.
“He buried the lead,” she said. “(He) gave me the other two concepts first, and then he gave me this one. It’s like, ‘Why didn’t you just start with that one?’ It’s just so good. We’re very excited about it.”
The initiative’s projects have all referenced Muskegon’s history, “connecting great art with the stories of Muskegon,” she said.
“Muskegon has a wealth of interesting stories and things that inspire us,” she added.
In October, organizers had a dedication for a new sculpture in Muskegon Heights depicting a drum major, representing the history of the city’s high school band.
The Portal, which will stand tall at four and a half stories, is rooted in several aspects of symbolism, Lee said: things like the sun, wedding rings, eternity and the cycles of life.
“To me it is a real symbol of unity,” he said. “That was part of the inspiration, is bringing people together around this piece and being able to walk through it and decide — if you wanted to — to be a better person.”
It also represents Sealed Power, a company founded in Muskegon in 1911 that made piston rings. The site the sculpture will sit on was developed by Bob Tuttle, a former president of the company.
“I’m hoping (people) walk through it and enjoy it, just get a positive vibe about Muskegon,” Brown said. “That’s my biggest hope is that there’s a vibe of positivity and continuity with the past, but moving into the future.”
The Portal will be welding in four sections and bolted to a large footing in the ground, Lee said. Those will be bolted together to complete a circle. It is expected to be installed in September 2024.
The initiative has started raising money for the project and has raised almost 75% of the $316,272 budget. Those interested in supporting the PORTAL Sculpture Fund can send a donation to the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon MI 49440.
Hayner said while people have loved the public art pieces the initiative has installed, it has also highlighted the other art found throughout Muskegon.
“It’s also allowed them to see what was already here in in a different way. Muskegon, before we ever started this, had a collection of about 50 works of public art throughout the throughout the city,” she said. “We’re simply adding to it.”
“It’s going to be spectacular,” Hayner said. “We’re very excited about it and I think the community is very excited about it.”